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Enjoy a safe Carnival
Today, Trinidad and Tobago begins the street parades that are the culmination of months of preparation and weeks of intense partying, the preamble to the mas of the streets. Much has been done to prepare for an enjoyable festival, particularly in the realm of security planning. Early in January, announcing the new parade route that bands will be following today, Deputy Commissioner Raymond Craig promised a safe Carnival, warning those of ill intent to steer clear of the festival.
“You can expect safety and security,” Mr Craig promised. “I also want to take the opportunity to warn individuals who want to disrupt it, that the police will be out in full force, and the law will be enforced.” In the weeks leading up to Carnival, other civic leaders also assured revellers that their safety was a high priority.
On Thursday, Chaguanas mayor Orlando Nagessar noted that security plans were in place and there would be strict observance of health laws related to the sale and consumption of food.
Chief Secretary of the THA Orville London announced last week that the assembly had met with Carnival stakeholders on the island to ensure a heightened security presence at popular events. The THA for its part will work to ensure that social services, health facilities and critical facilities such as scavenging and restrooms are properly tended to during the festival.
It’s important that these fundamentals are managed efficiently with this year’s visitor arrivals tracking so closely with last year’s. On February 02, Minister of Tourism Stephen Cadiz announced that 40,000 tourists were expected to visit the island for Carnival this year and that the major hotels were booked to capacity.
Those figures, compared to those gathered in a 2009 Ministry of Tourism statistical study of visitors covering 1997 through 2008, are in line with averages since 2004, the year that arrivals rose after the chilling effect of the terrorist attacks of 2001. Preserving a sense of safety in the national festival, then, is also good business strategy and the concerns of both politicians and those charged with national security are well placed.
But participants in Carnival should also be willing to take some responsibility for their own safety during these two days of street parades.
Visitors, masqueraders and spectators for their part should be aware that in every large group of people, no matter how friendly and accepting they might seem, there will always be those who are keen to take advantage of a good time and they should exercise their own cautions. Sensible precautions would include travelling in groups, having a designated driver and preserving a sense of situational awareness in situations that raise concern.
Police officers are on duty throughout the season and are well aware of the very special responsibility they have to manage public order in an appropriate way during this celebration and their experience in these matters is a resource that everyone, both visitors and citizens, should heed and be guided by.
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